There have been calls for Luiz to be moved forward in Chelsea's formation ever since he arrived at the club, with his attacking instincts clear from his first match. Luiz is a gifted technical footballer, and there was a thought that some of the riskier aspects of his play might be more welcome in a midfield role, rather than in the centre of defence.
With Romeu out for six months, Benitez has clearly decided that Luiz will have an important role to play in covering in central midfield for Chelsea, and on the back of his performance against Monterrey, Luiz looks very capable of making the switch in position.
Whilst the Mexican opposition were not the strongest team Chelsea will play this season, and somewhat collapsed in the second half, they qualified for the Club World Cup as CONCACAF champions, and Luiz's performance, especially in the first half, deserves plenty of credit.
The Brazilian seemed to relish the extra freedom granted by his new role, bursting forward to curl a 25 yard effort just over early in the game, before an excellent through ball almost created the opening goal shortly after. He was dynamic in pressing the opposition and calmly effective either passing or dribbling the ball.
However there were still areas he'd need to improve on if he was to play in the role against better sides. As he has been prone to do at centre half, Luiz can sometimes be dragged out of position in his attempts to win the ball. In midfield he pressed too high up the pitch on occasion, leaving space behind him if he was unsuccessful in winning the ball back. Part of his strength is his tenacity in hunting the ball down, but he will need to exercise restraint in his positioning against more capable teams.
Overall, however, Luiz's hour in midfield was san undoubted success, and he should be given another chance in the role in the final against Corinthians. That game will be a far better barometer of his suitability for the job, with the Brazilian side more adept at exploiting any space he may leave them. If he does play in midfield, Luiz will also be up against reported Chelsea target Paulinho, which will add a little extra interest to the match. If Luiz can get the best of the Corinthians player, he might save Chelsea an expensive dip into the transfer market in January.
image: © Ben Sutherland